PLAYING TOGETHER IS...IMPROVING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

The benefits of play go far beyond fun. True for every group in society. Read on to see how playing cards & board games can improve mental health.

PLAYING TOGETHER IS...IMPROVING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Games bring relief and positive thoughts

It is clear from our newspapers and the TV news that as humans we’re simply hardwired for negativity. Games can be effective in stopping negative thoughts that creep up in our brain.

According to Psychology Today, “From the dawn of human history, our very survival depended on our skill at dodging danger. The brain developed systems that would make it unavoidable for us not to notice danger and thus, hopefully, respond to it.”

One day at the spa won’t make much of a difference: “It takes frequent small positive experiences to tip the scales toward happiness.”

May we suggest a better way? Make time regularly to play a game. Cards and board games can act as a pause button while life around us goes on, giving us the chance to bond with others. They even offer moments of relief to families in distress.

Is it okay to play … as an adult?

As we move from childhood to adult life, play shifts to the background. It just does not seem like a productive way to spend valuable time. But it is.

Often, leisure time after a long day of work is still dictated by screens, from television to smartphones.

Playing cards and board games gives our eyes a welcome break from the digital world. Work and other commitments fall away while we enjoy some real-life interaction, fun, creativity and laughter, which has not been labeled ‘the best medicine’ for nothing. A dose of play is just what we need to allow the rejuvenation and relaxation our adult brains so desperately need.

Happy hormones at play

“Nothing lights up the brain like play”, says Dr. Stuart Brown, a pioneer in research on play. He finds that when people play, their brain fires impulses into the frontal lobe where many of our executive functions are regulated. That’s why playing is associated with improved memory.

While we play, there’s also a hormonal effect taking place. Playing games raises the levels of endorphins in our body. Those are the same chemicals that give you a warm, happy feeling when enjoying a nice dinner or the afterglow of a work-out. While you’re playing and bonding with the people at the table, your brain is also releasing oxytocin, a hormone that is involved in feelings of love and connection.

You’ll also experience less stress as you play. Yes, there may be plenty of positive excitement. But the negative stresses of fight-or-flight fall away as you focus entirely on the fun and safety of a card and board game with friends or family. This is a useful coping mechanism that can help protect you from burn-out.

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